« PreviousContinue »
materials. The Bishop of Calcutta was, unquestionably, a learned and well-disposed ecclesiastic; but it does not follow, that, because he was a Heber, and an Indian prelate, we are to be overwhelmed with numerous columns of newspaper speeches, one of which might fairly have served as a specimen of the whole. Besides, such things are but a miserable substitute, for what we understand by biography.
The memoir of Weber, though scanty, and ambitiously written, is interesting. The peculiar character of his music is justly stated, and his general merits not, we think, overcharged. We hope that the work which he is said to have left in manuscript, entitled "Kunstler Leben," (Lives of Artists), will not be lost to the public. Of its literary skill we, of course, know nothing; but if it contain a narrative of the principal events of the author's life, together with his observations on great musical works, and on the most eminent ancient and modern composers, it can hardly fail to prove highly acceptable to the musical world."
Of Dr. Milner, the celebrated controversialist, we have a sketch of some length, drawn as usual from partial sources. There are some passages in the life of that eminent prelate of the Catholic. church, which we should wish to see properly and fully explained, and reduced, if possible, to a colour that would harmonize with his ecclesiastical character. It is not to be denied, that he seldom interfered in the politics of the body to which he belonged, without embroiling them. In truth, he attributed too much importance to trifles; and he has been charged more than once, with being instrumental to the postponement of Catholic emancipation. We are not prepared to say, whether these imputations might not be repelled by a biographer, well acquainted with that distinguished bishop-if such a biographer we are likely to see; but as his history is told in the sketch before us, it is certainly defective in many points. His controversial works were numerous, and all are acknowledged to be replete with ability, learning, and uncommon force of judgment. His most celebrated productions are, his "History of Winchester," and his "End of Religious Controversy." The latter work is declared by Mr. Butler, no mean authority, to be "the ablest exposition of the doctrines of the Catholic church, on the articles contested with her by Protestants; and the ablest statement of the truths by which they are supported, and of the historical facts with which they are connected, that has appeared in our language." Miss Jane Taylor is allotted ample room in this volume; a circumstance to be attributed, we fancy, less to the justice of her claim to it, than to the facility which a memoir lately published by her brother, afforded for expanding so indifferent a theme.
Equally elevated above its due station, appears the article on Dr. John Gray. It is supplied by his brother, and, goes into a long detail of little facts, which may, perhaps, be interesting to his immediate friends, but in which a general reader finds little to
repay his attention. The most that can be said of Dr. Gray is, that he was, for a time, physician to the fleet, under Nelson and Collingwood, and finally to the naval hospital at Haslar. We extract, from a note, the following anecdote of Nelson, as we do not remember to have met with it elsewhere.
'Lord Nelson had an invincible dislike to medicine. Dr. Gray could never get him but to take a little ether. He was at present far from well. His anxiety to catch the French had exasperated all his ailments, and rendered him quite feverish. Lady Hamilton wanted Dr. Gray to prescribe for him. "No, No," said he, "it is of no use; Gray (for he would never call him Doctor) knows I never take physic."
This being premised, the following fact will show much good nature: -Dr. Snipe, the predecessor of Dr. Gray, was a polite man; but his politeness had a little of the formality of the old school in it. His lordship, as we have noticed, was very irritable when any thing important was going on. The French fleet was out; and of course he was particularly anxious. Dr. Snipe came to pay his morning visit, and hoped his lordship had slept well, and that he was in good health and spirits, and so on. "Poo! dem it," said his lordship, "what do I care about my health at present?" The doctor bowed and retired. Lord Nelson could not get a word from him during dinner. He felt much hurt at this; and at length hit on the following expedient to make the doctor speak. He sent for him, and said, "Snipe, I am very unwell, and, I think, feverish. Feel my pulse, and tell me how it is." "O, a little quick; slightly feverish: not much so. A small dose of physic would set your lordship to right." "Well, be so kind as to send me one; but let it be a small one." And he actually took a dose of salts; perhaps the only dose he had swallowed since he was a boy; and the doctor and the admiral were speaking friends again.'—p. 331.
While to such conspicuous characters as Michael Kelly, Dr. Bogue, and Miss Jane Taylor, scores of pages are freely dedicated, we find Lord Gifford, who really deserved much more, limited to half a dozen. In this memoir, which is evidently from the pen of a legal friend of that eminent and fortunate lawyer, several misstatements which have found general circulation are corrected, and some facts, new to us at least, are told in a simple and unpretending style.
Lord Gifford was born at Exeter, in 1779. His father, who was an extensive dealer in hops, grocery, and drapery, was twice married, and by his second wife had four children, of whom the lawyer was the youngest. He was educated at a school at Alphington, near Exeter, which was then kept by Dr. Halloran, whose doubtful celebrity cannot have been forgotten by the reader. Mr. Gifford, who from his boyhood evinced great quickness of apprehension, was, at a very early period, desirous of being educated to the bar. His father, however, did not second that desire, as he had not the means of gratifying it, and the young aspirant was articled to an attorney. Even in this situation, however, his talents soon became conspicuous, and after the term of his articles was expired, he had well founded hopes of being taken into part
nership by Mr. Young, the gentleman whom he had served. A family arrangement, however, prevented that hope from being realized, and Mr. Gifford, finding himself his own master, turned his thoughts again to the bar; and, much to the credit of his brothers, was assisted by them in attaining the object of his ambition. The rest of his history is well known. He soon distinguished himself in his profession, and rose rapidly to all the honours which he could enjoy, short of the highest, for which, we believe, he was destined, had his life been prolonged.
While Chief Justice of the court of Common Pleas, he was also appointed Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, to hear the Scotch Appeals. He was next, upon the death of Sir Thomas Plumer, on the 25th of March, 1824, made Master of the Rolls.
This caused a great increase of labour to him; for it became a part of his duty to dispose of the numerous appeals brought under the consideration of the Privy Council. These various duties, both in the House of Lords and in the Privy Council (in addition to his ordinary duties as Master of the Rolls), were performed by Lord Gifford entirely gratuitously. We can assert, on unquestionable authority, that during the whole period he received not one farthing beyond the ordinary, and, until the act of 6 Geo. IV. had passed, the inadequate salary of the Master of the Rolls; which hardly, if at all, exceeded that of one of the Puisne Judges.
But all this was done at the expense of health and strength. During almost the whole period of this laborious exertion, those who were nearly and intimately connected with him, experienced the utmost anxiety on his account. The friends who watched him, in that severe depression of spirits which over-fatigue and over-anxiety produced, can best estimate how little, in all this time of apparent prosperity, Lord Gifford was an object of envy. At the very moment of a most wanton and bitter attack, in which, in the forgetfulness of anger, it was stated in Parliament that the Rolls was all but a sinecure, the Master of the Rolls was attended by medical men, whose deliberate and expressed opinion was, that over-fatigue was undermining his constitution. Much pain, unquestionably, he did feel at that unjust attack; but the only answer he ever gave it was the continuance of his efforts, and the sacrifice of his life.
Utterly worn down and exhausted by his anxious and unremitting exertions, Lord Gifford, accompanied by his family, left London on the 23d of August, 1826, for a house which he had taken on the Marine Parade, at Dover. He was at that time suffering under a severe bilious attack. On Saturday, the 2d of September, symptoms of inflammation of the bowels appeared; on the next day he became much worse; and, notwithstanding every effort that could possibly be made by his medical attendants, Dr. Macarthur and Mr. Sankey, at a little after six o'clock on the morning of Monday, the 4th of September, this valuable man breathed his last; to the inconsolable grief of his friends, and the sincere regret of the public at large.
In person, Lord Gifford was well proportioned, and of about the middle stature. His carriage was easy; his aspect mild, without any admixture of weakness. His eye was quick and intelligent; his general manner and address, calm, frank and engaging.'-pp. 420-421.
That Lord Gifford was an astute and learned lawyer, it would be unjust to deny; but we do not at all agree with those who think that his mind was sufficiently enlarged, or illuminated, to sustain the dignity, and to discharge with benefit to the country, the various and important duties of a Lord Chancellor. Sir John Copley, his successor in the Rolls, is manifestly much better adapted in every respect for the Woolsack. But when will that splendid seat be vacant?
After a short memoir of Dr. Shipley, the late Dean of St. Asaph, we come to the Index, which, as we have said, contains many names which ought to have occupied much more prominent stations in the volume. We hope that the editor will be able to make some compensation to their memories, in his Biography of next year. We shall look with much interest to his promised account of the life of Flaxman.
ART. V. Notes made during a Tour in the Northern Countries of Europe; with Observations on the Foreign Corn Trade. By R. Smith, Esq. 8vo. pp. 504. 12s. London. C. and J. Rivington. 1827. THERE is nothing in Mr. Smith's observations on the foreign corn trade, which demands particular notice from us. The information which his notes afford on that subject, though differing in some respects from the statements made in Mr. Jacob's report, appears to us to want authenticity, and to have been prepared besides with a view to support the continuance of our present corn laws. It is his purpose to shew that the northern countries of Europe would, in the course of a few years, completely inundate our market with every sort of grain. Hence his inference is, that such a foreign supply ought to be prevented, and that our own agriculturists should be encouraged, by enormous bounties, to feed the people of this country for ever, at a famine price! If it be true, as Mr. Smith contends, that the fields and granaries of the north would be able to bear down all home competition in the English market, in the name of justice let it be so. There is no good reason in the world, why the people of this country should not have bread, upon the cheapest terms that can be imagined.
The truth is, however, that this question of the foreign corn trade, occupies but a very small proportion of Mr. Smith's notes. His real ambition was to produce "a Tour," and the few digressions to which he gives room, on the subject of grain, are only put forward with the view of giving a feature of novelty to his account of countries, which are as well known to Englishmen as the counties of Kent or Somerset. It was but lately that we had to notice the work of a writer*, who traversed many of the scenes
*Notes and Reflections during a Ramble in Germany.-M. R. vol. iii. p. 352.
visited by Mr. Smith, but who imparted new attraction even to those that were most familiar to us, by the glowing tints of a fine imagination, which he contrived to spread over them. In this respect the production before us is utterly deficient. The author is a plain matter-of-fact gentleman, who, without any pretensions to elegance of style, or profundity of research, has fancied that a compilation of notes, taken from the guide books, and from the catalogues of pictures, and of other curiosities which are to be found in Berlin, Dresden, and other equally unknown places, was a desideratum in our language. Of course he must record, too, his visit to Brussels, or as he affectedly writes it Brüssel, and to that most unfrequented spot, the field of Waterloo. Nay, he has carried
his simplicity so far, as to favour his readers with an elaborate programme of the "lions" of Paris, whence it appears, that they will afford a stranger abundant employment, for the first three weeks of his stay in that remote and unexplored capital.
It is difficult, however, for an intelligent person, such as Mr. Smith undoubtedly is, to proceed to any great distance from his own shores, and to return without adding something to the general stock of knowledge. He has given tables of the exports of corn from several of the northern countries, from 1816 to 1821, and also in the Appendix a list of the prices of grain at different foreign shipping ports, as they stood, so late as the middle of November last, which may be consulted with advantage by those who are interested in the discussion of the corn question. In other respects, he has done little more than repeat information already on our shelves, concerning Denmark, Prussia, Poland, Saxony, and other parts of Germany. He has, indeed, combined a great mass of statistical details in his work, which may not be so readily found in any other; and he has also collected a few documents and facts, connected with the pathetic history of the late beautiful, and unfortunate Queen of Prussia, which have not perhaps met the eye of the reader before. From the latter, therefore, we shall give a few
It is well known that the Queen was obliged to leave Berlin in the Spring of 1807, in consequence of the advance of the French army, and that she found a temporary asylum at Königsberg, whence she wrote the following letter to her father, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz:
"15th May, 1807.
""Dearest father, The departure of General Blucher gives me a safe opportunity, thank God! of speaking unreservedly with you. O my God! how long have I been deprived of this happiness, and how much have I to say to you! To the end of the third week of my illness, each day has been marked by fresh misfortunes. The despatch of the admirable Blucher to Pomerania-the patriotism which fills every breast-of which a further proof is, that part of the reserve battalion, only a few months organized, have already distinguished themselves, and the remainder are